While not as common as in-state traffic stops, more than a few Garden State residents get caught every week by police in nearby states for any number of traffic violations. Although a speeding ticket or citation for a vehicle equipment violation may not weigh heavy on the mind of some individuals, being arrested for drunken driving — whether her in New Jersey or somewhere out-of-state — can cause one to seriously consider the present and future implications of a potential DWI or drug DUI conviction.
It is a fact that as a licensed driver here in New Jersey, a motorist is required to obey the traffic laws and rules of the road here, as well as in other states in which one operates a motor vehicle. The sharing of DMV information between law enforcement agencies across the country has made out-of-state violations just as relevant as if they occurred in one’s own home state. This means that even if a New Jersey driver violates a traffic law out-of-state that he or she will still be subject to penalties, points and license suspension within New Jersey.
For reference, there are two interstate agreements that affect drivers when operating their vehicles in a state other than their own. The first is known as the “Driver License Compact,” which is an agreement between 45 of the 50 states in the Union, as well as the District of Columbia, that governs certain traffic violations and license suspensions for non-residents. Essentially what this means is that when a motorist is convicted of a traffic violation in a state other than the one where he or she resides, the non-resident state will report that conviction to the appropriate agency in the motorist’s home state.
If a driver’s home state has an equivalent law for a convicted offense, the driver will be affected by the penalties associated with that equivalent violation; in other words, the motorist will suffer the same penalties as if he or she had been charged and convicted of the violation in the home state.
The second interstate agreement is known as the “Non-resident Violator Compact.” This agreement, which is recognized by 44 states across the U.S., safeguards the rights and privileges of non-resident motorists when operating a motor vehicle outside of the state in which they reside. For example, because New Jersey is part of this compact, when a Garden State driver is stopped by a police officer and/or arrested and charged for a particular traffic offense in another state (that observes the Non-resident Violator Compact), that motorist is legally afforded the same rights/privileges as a resident driver in that member state.
This means that a New Jersey driver who is charged with a moving violation in another member state, will have the same protections of due process that he or she can expect for the offense in this state. Legally, a driver must comply with the terms of his or her traffic citation as ordered by a court in the member state; and failure to do so can result in the suspension of one’s driver’s license here at home.
When it comes to an out-of-state DWI arrest, a New Jersey resident who has been convicted of drunken driving will find that the state of New Jersey views that instance as a prior DWI offense, which as part of one’s driving record can have a potential affect the penalties of any subsequent drunk driving conviction here at home. (Note that there is one exception, which has to do with out-of-state DWI convictions based on a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of less than 0.08 percent.)
This kind of reciprocal situation involving out-of-state convictions can crop up more often than one might expect, especially with all of the travel between states these days. A recent news article illustrated one of the more typical scenarios in which a New Jersey motorist is stopped for a basic traffic violation and is subsequently arrested for some kind of impaired driving offense. The one we ran across not long ago involved a man from Brick, NJ, who was clocked going 90mph on the Staten Island parkway in New York. After being pulled over in the early morning hours, the local police charged the 49-year-old driver with DWI.
According to the news report, that portion of the parkway had a posted limit of 50mph. When the officer in charge carried out a roadside investigation he found the driver’s eyes to be “watery and bloodshot,” as well as having the odor of alcohol on his breath. The man was apparently taken into custody and given a Breathalyzer test, which showed his BAC to be close to 0.20 percent. The driver was charged one count of aggravated DWI, as well as a couple counts of driving under the influence of alcohol.
Motorist who allegedly hit 90 mph on Staten Island parkway is arrested for drunk driving, SILive.com, February 1, 2014